tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 27, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
terror plot. the u.s. citizen who wanted to carry out a catastrophic car bombing during a christmas tree lighting. who is he and how did the fbi stop him? high anxiety and outrage. in one of the most dangerous places on earth. what's next for the crisis in korea? paying the price as holiday shoppers jam stores this weekend. the hidden cost banks are charging for what used to be free. and bumps and bruises. president obama nursing a split lip. hardly the first president to be on the injured list while the world is watching.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television and good evening. we begin with the sting operation in oregon that exposed a bomb plot aimed at thousands of people gathered in downtown portland for a christmas tree lighting ceremony. federal officials say the suspect, a 19-year-old naturalized u.s. citizen from somalia, tried to detonate a van packed with explosives. but little did he know it was part of a five-month undercover operation to catch him in the act. we'll have the latest from portland in just a minute. but we begin our coverage tonight with nbc's justice correspondent pete williams in washington. pete, good evening. >> reporter: savannah, there was no danger to those people it at the tree lighting because there never was a real bomb. but fbi agents say the man they arrested had a very real desire to cause death and injury.
as the crowded portland jammed into pioneer square for the christmas tree lighting. >> happy holidays! >> reporter: a man hurried there in a van carrying what he thought was a powerful bomb, parking it in this spot just across the street, hoping the fbi says, to kill as many people as possible. what he did not know is that the bomb was a dud. the culmination of an elaborate sting. >> it looked real. it was meant to be so the suspect believed it was a real device. >> reporter: federal agents say they arrested mohamed osman mohamud, a 19-year-old student born in somalia, now a naturalized u.s. citizen, as he tried to detonate the fake bomb. the fbi says it began investigating him last spring while he was at student at oregon state university. court documents say he exchanged e-mails with someone he thought was connected to terrorists in pakistan but who turned out to be working undercover for the fbi. in late june, he began meeting
in portland with that undercover operative and another also posing a as a terrorist. the fbi says he told them he wa wanted to bomb the tree lighting ceremony, frustrating he couldn't get overseas to join in jihad. court documents say they asked him, you know there's going to be a lot of children there? and that he answered, yeah, i mean, that's what i'm looking for. >> i was highly motivated at every turn, every time we contacted him. he expressed his desire, his motivation to commit violent jihad. >> reporter: in september he bought electrical components like these for the bomb and practiced detonating explosives built by the undercover operatives. and just yesterday, the fbi says, he helped them assemble the bomb inside a van. 55-gallon drums and what looked like blasting caps and detonator cord. law enforcement officials say they actually began investigating him after someone alerted them that he was interested in violent jihad. in one e-mail mohamud wrote, i have been betrayed by my family, according to court documents. >> that's our job to make sure people who have the intent don't connect with people who have the
means. we stepped in to make sure the attack didn't happen. >> reporter: federal officials say having good relations with the muslim community in portland was critical to the case. without that, they say, this might not have ended as it did, savannah. >> all right, pete williams in our washington newsroom. thank you. so who is this teenager? authorities say wanted to cause so much mayhem in portland? for that we go to jim forman of king-tv. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, savannah. they called this square portland's living room. is home to the city's large civic events like last night when 10,000 people packed in here to usher in the holidays. it would be a perfect target for a would-be bomber. today portland's pioneer courthouse square was alive with the sounds of the holidays and full of shoppers. it it was here federal prosecutors allege mohamed osman mohamud wanted to detonate his car bomb during friday evening's christmas tree lighting ceremony. portland's mayor tried to reassure the public and offered high praise for law enforcement. >> this individual was really
going to carry out mass destruction in portland. so i'm really pleased they were as patient, they were as smart. >> reporter: mohamud said he had been interested in jihad since an early teen even writing for a jihadist website. he went to beaverton where classmates recalled he once gave a presentation on how to make an explosive device. while the details of the plot are shocking enough, even more stunning to portland's residents is that it happened here. >> that's really scary. at least they caught him. >> reporter: at pioneer courthouse square today, the local muslim community handed out what they call peace flyers. leaders were quick to distance themselves from mohamed mohamud and the alleged bomb plot. >> we condemn terrorist wholeheartedly and believe there's no room for violence in
islam and that we need to start taking a stand for peace. >> reporter: friends say mohamud was outgoing. certainly not a loner. they do add he would joke about being a terrorist. they thought nothing of that until now. savannah? >> jim forman in portland for us. officials at the highest levels of the u.s. government are bracing for a massive leak of tens of thousands of accepts tiff, classified documents. the latest release from the website wikileaks. secretary of state hillary clinton will make nearly a dozen calls to world leaders this weekend trying to manage the impact of what is expected to be highly embarrassing to the u.s. government. our jim miklaszewski has been on top of this story all weekend and has the latest from our washington bureau. jim, good evening. >> reporter: by all accounts, savannah, this is going to be a massive dump of u.s. classified information. one senior administration official tells us as many as several million pages may be released. much of it secret. some of it a potential threat to
national security and mostly all of it embarrassing. there's fear, for example, the documents will reveal secret u.s. military and intelligence operations against al qaeda in yemen which could threaten the critical u.s. mission there. u.s. officials also claim some documents contain embarrassing revelations about the russian leadership which could actually threaten ratification of the start nuclear arms treaty in congress. many of the leaks are expected to reveal confidential contacts the u.s. has had with many world lead e leaders, seriously damaging any trust they had, that secrets they share with the u.s. would remain secret. a senior pentagon official tells us that once the dust has settled, though, there will be a 9/11-like review of intelligence procedures with an eye on trying to plug such massive leaks in the future. savannah? >> an early look at pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski, thank you. overseas tonight an air disaster a. cargo plane has crashed this a residential area of karachi, pakistan's biggest
city, setting off a huge fire and killing all eight crew members onboard. pakistani authorities say the plane was russian made and was headed for sudan. several people on the ground have also reportedly been killed. there is no indication yet of what caused that crash. to south korea now where tensions are running high over north korea's attack earlier this week and the north's dire warnings about tomorrow's planned military exercises between the u.s. and south korea. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in south korea for us tonight. richard, good evening. >> reporter: hello, savannah. it is already sunday here in south korea. and a senior u.s. military official told nbc news the military exercises are going ahead this morning amid increasing calls in this country to take a harder stance against north korea. demonstrators in seoul lashed
out for firing several hundred artillery rounds on a south korean island last tuesday killing four people. and angry with their own government, accusing it of showing so much restraint it looks weak. at a state funeral for two marines killed along with two civilians during the bombardment, the south korean marine commander took a hard line. he threatened revenge a thousand times over. in pyongyang in north korea, the government called the civilian deaths very regrettable. but state controlled television also accused the south of using civilians as human shields. it said the region is on the brink of war. the north has long used fear and conflict with the south to justify its continued authoritarian rule. the united states is sending a message of its own, moving in the "uss george washington"
carrier strike group. some think the show of force won't change much. >> frankly this is the kind of thing that we do often with the north koreans. it's just frustrating because it's getting us no are where. meanwhile, they are getting ready to build more nuclear weapons. that's the dilemma. >> reporter: but after this week's attack, south korea has expanded the training, sent more troops and increased surveillance of the north. >> the north may still use this as a pretext for responding with another conventional act, whether it's another artillery shelling or some other action that's even more pro-vok it tiff. >> reporter: north korea has threatened to create a sea of fire if its territory is violated either by south korea or the united states. for its part, china, which has influence over north korea, has sent a diplomatic envoy here to try and ease tensions during these military exercises which are scheduled to last four days.
savannah? >> all right, richard engel on sunday morning in south korea, thank you, richard. now to the way many americans spent the holiday weekend, shopping. the folks are hoping the crowds would buy and all kinds of bargains to get things rolling. nbc's mike taibbi is out with shoppers in new york city tonight. >> reporter: it all looked good on black friday, the day after thanksgiving, when retailers hoped to enter the profit zone and traffic remained steady saturday. the first numbers were out. by one estimate a 4% increase in the number of shoppers who actually purchased items, the so-called conversion rate, and an increase of 33% in the number of shoppers who say they're self-gifting like these sisters. >> we are from boston and we came here for black friday for the sales and now we're just shopping for ourselves. >> reporter: and to keep the momentum going, there's a campaign to follow black friday with small business saturday. an appeal to support local nonchain businesses. the idea is catching on with
some shoppers. >> it's easier. it's charming. it's better stuff. and i don't like the crowds. >> i'm feeling really good about things. >> reporter: and that's just what they want to hear. >> it's a really simple message. think of three independent brick and mortar businesses you love and don't want to lose. go back and pick up something. >> reporter: big retailers like jc peppy are using constantly updated circulars and aggressive prices to keep the customers coming. many are trying to buy only with cash and only buying what they need like vanessa brown of jersey city. >> i try to use cash to keep myself out of debt. i need to get out of the hole not back in. >> reporter: while they suggest some buyers are spending more than last year -- >> because i'm making more money. >> reporter: no one is throwing money around. retailers like jcpenney's manager know it. >> we want to stay within a budget without a question. without a question.
they're spending it very, very cautiously. >> reporter: the final report card from the long black friday weekend won't be in until after the sales figures are tabulated for cyber monday next week. >> nbc's mike taibbi in new york. mike, thanks. and still ahead on "nightly news" during this season of buying, a warning about the money you don't know you're spending. >> it makes me really angry because they're charging me for not spending my own money. >> up next, the creative new ways banks are find iing to chae you. and later, a teenager who found comfort in reading now making a difference for others. i was short of breath,
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another bank's a it tm, he sometimes paid $6 or $7 to get $40 in cash. all the fees have eaten away at money he earned over the summer. $2. $2.50. $2.95. $2. >> i know. that's insane. >> reporter: thened added a mon $8.95 for what had been totally free checking. parents told chirp to trust banks. no more. >> now you warn them off on all the con games and the scams and the nickel and dimg that goes on. >> reporter: a recent survey of big banks by bank rate found fees have gone up across the board this year. service, overdraft, atm fees all up. and the number of americans enjoying free checking, that's down. from 76% to 65%. some consumers who didn't watch their statements closely have learned the hard way. barbara nelson was shocked to
discover she'd been charged $6 to $12 a month by her bank because she didn't use her debit card enough. basically an inactivity fee. >> what makes me really angry because they're charging me for not spending my own money. >> reporter: draining her account in fees on an account she didn't use once this year. >> the banks are making huge profits of small potatoes, hundreds of millions of small potatoes like me. >> reporter: the banks argue that increased regulation has increased their costs and an industry spokesman says banks are merely charging customers for the services they use. >> the key factor is to understand what fees will be charged and when and it's easy armed with that knowledge to avoid those fees. >> reporter: and he said consumers should expect even more fees soon on their debit cards. lisa myers, nbc news, bethesda,
maryland. up next, insult to injury. the whole world gets a view of a busted lip and just about every other minor mishap of an american president. to the bathroom. i'm fed up with always having to put my bladder's needs ahead of my daughter. so today i'm finally talking to my doctor about overactive bladder. [ female announcer ] if you're suffering, today is the day to talk to your doctor and ask about prescription toviaz. one toviaz pill a day significantly reduces sudden urges and accidents all day and all night. plus, toviaz comes with a simple plan with tips on food and drink choices. if you have certain stomach problems or glaucoma or cannot empty your bladder, you should not take toviaz. toviaz can cause blurred vision and drowsiness, so use caution when driving or doing unsafe tasks. the most common side effects are dry mouth and constipation. [ jackie ] i asked my doctor about toviaz. and today i'm looking forward to my daughter's wedding.
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here's nbc's mike viqueira. >> reporter: accidents can and do happen to all of us, even presidents. the difference is for a modern president. >> in stitches the press ices down an injury. >> reporter: mr. obama's split lip quickly became news on a slow holiday weekend. but it's only the latest in a long line of presidential mishaps caught on camera. many are embarrassing. and all are now part of american lore. president ford fell going down and up the stairs of air force one. jimmy carter got light headed while running a 10-k. and bill clinton an avid golfer, fell and injured his knee at the home of tour pro greg norman. there was george h.w. bush throwing up on the japanese prime minister in tokyo. and his son had his share of accidents. george w. bush choked on a pretzel while watching football, passed out and landed on his face leaving a nasty mark. >> chew before you swallow.
listen to your mother. >> reporter: even they happen in private, news of presidential illnesses and accidents become public sooner rather than later. but before the internet, cable news or even television, the white house and press kept very big secrets like the is he verpt of fdr's polio and his frequent use of a wheelchair. >> and there was an unwritten rule among the photographers in the press corps that they would never show him in his wheelchair, never show him with his crutches, never being helped to walk if he couldn't walk on his own. >> reporter: now president obama's split lip is front page news. one journalist who has faced him on the court says his game can be physical. >> there was one incident i'm thinking of where he essentially bodychecked a guy in midair and the guy tumbled to the ground. >> reporter: before yesterday some suspected that mr. obama was getting off easy. >> i mean, come on, nobody is going to give the president a hard foul with the secret service standing there. >> reporter: but in sports, as in politics, injuries are all
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vesicare may cause blurred vision, so use caution while driving or doing unsafe tasks. common side effects are dry mouth, constipation, and indigestion. ( woman ) you have better things to join than always a line for the bathroom. so, pipe up and ask your doctor today about taking care with vesicare. and finally tonight the story of a teenager on a mission to spread the healing power of words on a page. she's making a difference, and it all began when she turned to books to help her through her own tough time.
here's nbc's lily luciano. >> they're drinking poe tato chs through a straw. >> reporter: she loves to read and inspired that same passion in children. >> i definitely think that books can change kids' lives. can you hold my hand? >> reporter: when she was 10 mckenzie was diagnosed with a rare condition that causes agonizing pain on her left knee. >> i was in so much pain around the time of middle school that i would have to stay in bed for months at a time, and the only way i could get my mind off the pain was through reading. here we go. >> reporter: so she started a mission, to help others escape their own suffering and founded a nonprofit sheltering books widow nats children's books to to shelters for the homeless and abused. >> that has changed their lives. do you like "the lion king"? >> reporter: mckenzie gives
books to people like 9-year-old david who has been without a home since his mom lost her home in july. >> to say the books are here for free for us i'm very happy. >> reporter: joanie robinson living in a shelter doesn't own any books to read to her baby. >> i got every book here that she would need. >> i have them all ready for you. >> reporter: mckenzie spends her weekends collecting books from around the country and handing out flyers. four years ago mckenzie started out with the goal fl giving out 300 books. today she has donated more than 50,000 to children in need. >> my ultimate goal for sheltering books is to have collected as many books as there are homeless children in america. >> reporter: clifton matches mckenzie with books. >> she does it with a smile and just makes a huge difference. >> reporter: a difference not just for the kids. >> when i see the faces of the children, how thaep and how excited they are to be getting books of their own, it just
makes me feel like everything that i do is worth it. >> reporter: for mckenzie, giving back is the best treatment yet. nbc news, alfredo, georgia. and that's nbc "nightly news" for this saturday. i'm savannah guthrie reporting from new york. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow. have a very good evening. it is a rainy, chilly holiday weekend across the bay area. good evening, i'm garvin thomas. we're in the midst of a cold